Monday, February 18, 2008

The Boiled Frog Syndrome

The adage goes that if a frog is placed in a pot of boiling water, it would immediately jump out to avoid death. Conversely, if the frog is placed in cool and pleasant water and slowly heated, it would swim merrily in the increasingly warm water until it is too late to escape and is eventually cooked.
In practice, the above metaphor is factually erroneous. The wisdom contained within it however, is not. Complacent Malaysians may one day awake to a very different melting pot, one very unlike 1957’s.

From PAS’s Islamic State manifesto to UMNO’s Islam Hadhari, the climate of Malaysia over the years has slowly but definitely, veered towards religiousity – one that regrettably centers on form and surface rather than substance and value.

If our five senses are a reliable gauge and comprehension of the real world, humans would have no need for the use of microscopes and would therefore be in denial of the presence of harmful microorganisms. Similarly, certain pious religious folks seem to believe that sexual crimes and all of society’s problems would cease to exist if Malaysians dress and behave according to the totalitarian dictation of a single dominant theology.

Such a state of society, if possible to begin with, serves only to appease the internal turmoil faced by these post-modern Pharisees in denial of events taking place “behind the scenes”. The truth is, there is more than meets the eye and external appearance and conduct are rarely reflective of the person’s character and heart’s content.

Despite much external-oriented efforts and laws, there is hardly any evidence that tudungs, skull caps and the male-female segregation efforts are reducing rape, incest, and the transmission of HIV in the states of UMNO-led Terengganu and PAS-led Kelantan. Statistics show that sexual crimes and HIV remain pervasive over the years.
Trivial issues of morality like attire and public display of affection seem to have surpassed other more acute and threatening events. I can’t prove it, but my guess is that hugs and kisses do not carry the same consequences as do chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer, both of which are too prevalent in the Malaysian population. A holier-than-thou attitude would also not address the issues of uncontrolled environmental pollution or increasing poverty in the light of sky-rocketing inflation. Neither would self-righteousness produce employable graduates and world-class universities.

Certain narcissistic Malaysians seem to have their priorities sincerely wrong, being obsessed on the topic of female attire and the behavior of “infidels”. Either that or they are well distracted by UMNO’s attempt to sidetrack a multi-ethnic society from issues like widespread corruption, spiraling crime rate and the rise of China’s economy.

If indeed some quarters feel compelled to fan the flame of public morality, these self-appointed custodians of conduct should first take a stroll along Jalan Chow Kit and Bukit Bintang tonight, and see for themselves the unveiled faces of intravenous drug abuse and brazen prostitution and pimping.

I plead with all “indecent” Malaysians – those who embrace and hold hands, to stand up and be heard, lest we end up in the Boiled Frog Syndrome.

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